Country Traditions

January 16, 2011

Home & Garden | Fig trees are easy to grow and offer garden beauty and fruit | Seattle Times Newspaper

Filed under: trees — Tags: , , , — dmacc502 @ 5:33 pm

 

Home & Garden | Fig trees are easy to grow and offer garden beauty and fruit | Seattle Times Newspaper.Bite into a warm juicy fig, picked fresh off the tree, and I guarantee you’ll want to grow a fig tree in your garden. A wide variety of bareroot fig trees will soon be available at local nurseries and mail-order catalogs. Besides the tasty fruit, these trees add a tropical flavor to your garden with their large lobed leaves and gnarled trunks.

These fast-growing beautiful trees can reach their ultimate height of 15-30 feet tall in about five years. Plant your fig in the sunniest spot you can find or train it against a south wall. Cut the tree to about 2 feet tall when you plant it.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Advertisements

January 15, 2011

Marmalade is way easier than it looks – Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories

Filed under: canning, family, recipes, wisdom — Tags: , , , , , — dmacc502 @ 4:25 pm
Today I made marmalade......mmm!

Image via Wikipedia

The first step is to peel the fruit. We’ve made lemon, lemon-orange, and orange marmalade, but you can use pretty much any citrus fruit.

We looked around a bit and settled on this recipe primarily because of its simplicity. It scales well. For a large batch, just keep peeling and cutting fruit until the pot is full or your hands were tired. You can also scale down–grab a couple of oranges from the cafeteria and you’ll make a lot of friends in your dorm kitchen.

The peels need to be cut into little slivers for the appropriate texture in the marmalade. If you stack up the pieces, you can cut a bunch at once.
Marmalade 06

Many recipes recommend removing the white pith because it is bitter. Other recipes recommend removing the pith and reserving it, cooking it along with the fruit in a cheesecloth bundle and removing it at the end, presumably to allow extraction of the pectin. Many jam and jelly recipes call for pectin to be added, but it isn’t needed for marmalade because of the amount of pectin already present in the skin and pith of the citrus fruit.

Some recipes call for a blanching or soaking stage. The primary purpose of blanching is to remove the bitterness from the pith and peel. We like bitter marmalade, so we left in most of the pith and didn’t soak or blanch the peels or fruit. That also keeps the recipe simple– just slice up the fruit and throw it in the pot with the peel pieces.
Marmalade 08

The fruit and peel are cooked in water until they’re good and soft. It takes a while (about an hour), but once you’ve got a nice simmer going, you can ignore it pretty well.
Marmalade 12

The sugar goes in. Lots of sugar. The original recipe calls for 4 cups of water and 4 cups of sugar (with ten lemons). The 4 cups of water barely covered the raw fruit (in a saucepan with roughly equal depth and diameter). For scaling the recipe up or down, you can use that as a rough guide: pour in water a cup at a time until the fruit is almost covered, then once everything’s soft add as much sugar as you did water.
Marmalade 15

Stir in the sugar, and bring it up to a boil, stirring regularly.
Marmalade 28

The original recipe says to cook it until it’s 220 degrees fahrenheit. If you’re one of the few with a well-calibrated thermometer, congratulations. For the rest of us, put a spoonful of the proto-marmalade on a cool plate. If it’s still runny after cooling for a minute, keep simmering a little longer. It should show signs of jelling after cooking for 45 minutes to an hour.
Marmalade 19

That’s it. You’ve made marmalade!
Marmalade 20

But now you’re wondering what to do with it. We recommend spreading it on a freshly toasted english muffin. Or maybe a crumpet.

You can put the rest of it in a bowl, let it cool, then keep it in the fridge and use it. Or you can can it. Canning is not as scary as it sounds. You pour the warm marmalade into warm jars, wipe the rims clean, put a clean lid and rim on them and boil the jars covered with water for 15 minutes.

There are lots of kinds of canning setups but the simplest is a pot with a spacer to keep the jars off the bottom. While you can get dedicated canning kettles with jar racks inexpensively, you don’t really need any special equipment. Rules of thumb: your pot needs to be deeper than your jars so you can cover them with water, and the jars shouldn’t rest on the bottom of the pot, so as to avoid thermal stress. You can put a small wire cooling rack, a vegetable steamer, or an array of skewers tied together in the pot to keep the jars off the bottom.
Marmalade 21

After boiling the jars, you can ladle out some of the water and lift your jars out with an oven mitt. However, a set of jar lifting tongs doesn’t cost much and makes that step easier. A wide mouthed funnel is nice since it keeps stuff of the rims of the jars, but is also not necessary, especially if you get wide mouthed jars.

The folks who make Ball jars have some nice overviews of canning techniques.
Marmalade 30

You may recognize our technique as one common in mathematics. We have reduced a difficult problem (what to do with 75 pounds of citrus) into a problem whose solution is well known: what to do with many jars of marmalade.

 

via Marmalade is way easier than it looks – Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories.

November 14, 2010

A Guide to Saving Seeds | Care2 Healthy & Green Living

Filed under: dehydrating, family, farming, gardening, herbs, weather, wisdom — Tags: , , , , — dmacc502 @ 7:19 am
Fennel seed

Image via Wikipedia

A Guide to Saving Seeds | Care2 Healthy & Green Living.

via A Guide to Saving Seeds | Care2 Healthy & Green Living.

How to Save Seeds

There are two main types of seed saving depending on the type of plant: wet processing and dry processing.

Wet Processing

Very simply, when the fruit of the plant is fully ripe, separate the seeds from the flesh of the fruit, wash them, and air-dry them on a non-stick surface. During washing, any seeds that float can be discarded as this is usually a sign of a non-viable seed. Some fruits and vegetables in this category are squash and melons.

Exceptions

Some seeds, like tomato seeds, actually have to be fermented to become viable. For tomatoes, mush up the fruit (with seeds) and add to a quart jar filled 2/3 with water. Let this sit for about a week (it will be fermenting during this time), then rinse, dry, and store the seeds in an air-tight, dry, and sterile-as-possible location, where the temperature will remain cool.

Dry Processing

You might have read in the Bible about threshing and winnowing. Well, when it comes to saving seed, those skills are just as valuable today as they were back then. Threshing is separating a seed from its coating, usually by beating it or whipping the dry plant on the ground. Winnowing is separating the seeds from the chaff, traditionally by enlisting the help of the wind. For some plants, this can all be achieved by hand, as with beans. With beans, simply crack open the dry pod and remove the seeds. Other dry-processed plants include broccoli, cabbage, carrots, most herbs, flowers, and grains. Storage is the same as for wet-processed seeds.

Other Plant Varieties

Of course, some plants are propagated by means other than seed planting. For instance, potatoes can be stored through the winter, then each eye can be cut out and planted. Most fruit trees are propagated through cuttings. The methods listed above are general principles of seed saving. There are excellent books and online resources which will provide further information about specific plants.

Related:
4 Reasons to Grow Heirloom Plants
10 Tips for Harvesting Your Kitchen Garden
Grow Your Own Food!

Read more: http://www.care2.com/greenliving/a-guide-to-saving-seeds.html#ixzz15G6D6Spl

 

November 1, 2010

In pictures: How to press apples | Life and style | guardian.co.uk

Filed under: family, farming, gardening, recipes, wisdom — Tags: , , , , , — dmacc502 @ 8:32 am
American-style apple cider, left; Apple juice,...

Image via Wikipedia

In pictures: How to press apples | Life and style | guardian.co.uk.

via In pictures: How to press apples | Life and style | guardian.co.uk.Choose your apples. I like a fairly tart juice. Here I’m using almost all Bramleys. That’s fine at the end of October, when the sugars have built up. But pure Bramley juice made in mid-September would be too sour, and you’d need to blend them with dessert apples. Unless you have a sweet tooth, you’ll probably want at least a few cookers in the mix, or a perhaps a handful of the less acidic cider apple varieties. Experiment with different varieties and proportions until you find the blend that suits you best. Wash them.

Cut them up. You’ll need to do this only if you’re using a drill-bit scratter (or pulper) like mine or a kitchen juicer. If you’re lucky enough to have a hand-cranked scratter you can feed them in whole. But in any case, cut out all rotten or wormy flesh: if this goes into the press, it will make the juice taste musty. Recent bruising won’t hurt, however: in fact it tends to make the juice sweeter. You don’t need to remove the cores.

Here I’m using the cheap scratter I don’t like very much. It’s a drill bit, threaded through a tough plastic lid, with which you cover a bucket containing the chopped apples. The first time I used it, it wasn’t properly secured and the bit went straight through the side of the bucket. To prevent that from happening, you need someone else to put their foot on the other side of the lid (in this photo it’s just my foot, so you can see it more clearly. But don’t do this alone). If you’ve got a variable-speed drill, turn it down (to about 3/10). Once the lid is on securely, pull the trigger and raise and lower the drill for around 20 seconds

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.